Wow! Backfence is a super local online community in the States. is a new way to find out what’s going on in the world closest and most important to you: Your neighborhood. And the information is written by the people who know your neighborhood best: You and your neighbors.

What’s happening with the new development down the street? Does anybody know a good housepainter? Who won the T-ball championship? What’s the best place in town to find good Thai food? Have you seen the photos from the church fundraiser? Who’s going to be the new junior high school principal? Anybody got tips about good bike trails? When is the next PTA meeting?These are the kinds of questions and conversations that constantly take place among neighbors the shared wisdom of the local community. The kinds of things that used to be talked about over the back fence. captures that community knowledge and makes it available to all—information you really can’t get anywhere else.

By using only local advertising, making it relevant to the site visitor, Backfence offers a place to share foto’s, share upcoming events, free classifieds or review a local business… this last is tricky on forums. You have to trust that happy campers will outweigh disgruntled customers. At the end of the day tho, its better they diss your business in open communication than behind your back!

Backfence is a leader in a new phenomenon called “citizens’ journalism”—a sharing of information where the audience itself decides what’s important and writes about it. Others have called it grassroots media—a return to the small-town days when neighbors shared vital information and know-how with each other. None of us knows as much as all of us—and Backfence brings all of us together.

Or participatory journalism or user generated content. Or we media. Whatever. It seems to be working over in YankeeLand – is there anything as good in Australia? If we had it here, I would integrate the public transport better (probably use STA feeds) and I would enlist the support of say, local pollies to write blogs and run feedback forums on local council etc initiatives. Similar to how they’ve done the sports forum with Adult/School/Youth/Health and Fitness Areas. Though I shouldn’t call it a forum, looks like they are using a blog with foto setup and a comment section.
Anyway, I really really like Backfence’s set up, go have a look at how they’ve integrated the forums with the local advertising in say, the Community Guide. Yes, indeedily-doodily!